By Ravi Valluri

A temple is essentially a building devoted and dedicated to the worship of a god or a pantheon of gods.

“I am a believer of all religions. I will happily visit a temple, a mosque and a church. I do not differentiate between religions,” says the iconic trouper Rishi Kapoor.

Nevertheless, temples in South India stand out as wondrous architectural expressions of religion, learning and spirituality that globetrotters and the devout throng in humungous numbers to explore their sheer majesty, gargantuan size and the wisdom imparted. The incantation of ancient Vedic mantras in the agama style of rendition suffuses the mind with efficacious thoughts. These chanting wade through the swathes of the human mind where antipathetic and Sisyphean thoughts get purged and humans are filled with radiance and jollity. A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions; thus it is with the peregrination to a temple or any place of worship.

Tourists from across the globe display immense interest in exploring the intricately carved and aesthetically designed temples of South India. These temples form an integral part of the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Temples in Kerala

It is noteworthy to mention that the testimony to the variegated legacy left behind by the kings of era bygone is graphically captured in the temples of Kerala. The construction of these temples has been singularly influenced by the tropical climate of the region. The temples of the state are characterized by steep and pointed roofs which are enveloped with copper sheets.

The popular and most famous temples, of Kerala, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the Mannaarshala near Thiruvananthapuram, the grandiose Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayur and the Vadakkunnathar Temple at Thrissur, are architectural gems. Millions of followers and tourists seeking redemption pay obeisance at these places of worship. Others marvel at the massive scale on which these temples were conceived and the science behind their construction.

Temples in Karnataka

Standing the test of time, the temples of Karnataka are exalted and acclaimed for their sheer architectural beauty. The rock -cut temples and temples constructed in Dravidian style are the pre-eminent attractions.

These impressive shrines were built by the Chalukya dynasty. The temples built by the Hoysalas are characterized by the usage of a star shaped platform as the base of the temple. The monolithic pillars and sculptural motifs of these fabled temples distinguish them from other temples in South India. Some of the august and remarkable temples in Karnataka are the following:

The ISKCON Temple located at Bangalore

The Chennakesava Temple situated at Hassan

Virupaksha and Hemakuta Temples of Hampi

The Cave and Jain Temple embellished at Badami

Temples in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is an abode of the most alluring and prepossessing temples of India. The glorious historical records of the era bygone indicate that the temples of the state were built by the potentates of Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Nayak and Vijaynagara dynasties. Carved out of rocks; these temples exhibit various architectural designs. Some are characterized by gigantic and mammoth halls and massive gopurams.

A gopuram is the rising tower at the entrance of a temple which is embellished with intricate carvings and painted with a variety of mythological themes. The must-see list temples in Tamil Nadu include several preeminent ones.

The Meenakshi Temple was constructed in the honour of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati and is situated in Madurai; the history of the temple dates back to the 18th century. The 12 stunning, towering gopurams of the temple are absolutely majestic and draw the attention of pilgrims and sightseers alike.

The Rameswaram Temple is noteworthy for the longest corridor in the country. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Other captivating temples are the Kapileshwar Temple, the Shore Temple, the Sarangapani Temple, Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple, the Brihadeshwara Temple and the Kanyakumari Amman Temple which attract pilgrims, architects and trippers in large numbers.

Temples in Pondicherry

The Union Territory of Pondicherry is home to around 350 temples which have been built in an impressive manner. The Varadaraja Temple and Villenour’s Thyirukameswarar Temple were constructed in the 12th century and to date, hold their own with their old world charm. The Tiruvandar Siva temple, the Bahur temple and the Manakula Vinayakar temple are the other attractive temples where the faithful throng to seek divine benediction.

Temples of Andhra Pradesh

The state of Andhra Pradesh is dramatic in the assortment of historical monuments, architectural beauty, natural attractions and several holy temples that it houses. Among the exemplar temples of Andhra Pradesh are the Tirumala Temple at Tirupati, the Diguva Mangalagiri Temple, the Bhadrachalam Temple and the temple at Srisailam, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Temples of Telangana

Geographically, Telangana lies in the Deccan plateau. It has several places of tourist attraction, several heritage sites, historical monuments and ancient temples. The celebrated temples in Telangana region include the Yadagirigutta Temple, the Bhadrachalam Temple, the Birla Mandir at Hyderabad, the Thousand Pillar Temple, the Bhadrakali Temple and the Meenakshi Agasteeshwara Swami Temple.

It is said that there are around three thousand temples in South India which attract pilgrims, devout and trippers alike and it is worth every penny to visit these places of worship.

“Your body is your temple, it’s your home and you must decorate it,” wrote the American actress Gaboury Sidibe.

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